Sapphire Industry Watch – January 30

  • Public servants to take power to India’s slums in international move – Canberra Times: Pollinate Energy is a social enterprise with a mission to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by providing access to sustainable technologies like solar energy and LED lights. Co-founded in 2012 by a Canberra woman, the organization has already helped more than 25,000 people in Bangalore switch to solar LED lighting in their homes.
  • The First Super Bowl Played Under LEDs will use 75 Percent Less Power– Gizmodo: Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona will be the first Super Bowl played entirely under LED lights. The switch from metal halide fixtures to high-performance LED lights will reduce overall energy consumption by 75 percent.
  • LEDs cast new light on auto design – The Detroit News: As the price of LEDs continues to decline, the technology is becoming standard on many headlamps and taillights of mainstream vehicles. Once found only on luxury vehicles, nearly all of the models showcased at the 2015 North American International Auto Show incorporated LED lighting.
  • Rubicon Technology Will Report Results of Fourth Quarter Operations on February 12, 2015 – MarketWatch: Rubicon Technology will report financial results for the fourth quarter, which ended on December 31, 2014, after the market closes on February 12, 2015. Management will host a conference call at 5:00 p.m. EST on February 12 in conjunction with the earnings release to review the financial results and an audio replay of the call will be available approximately one hour after the conclusion of the call.

Sapphire Industry Watch – December 12

  • Denmark laboratory shows off latest energy saving street lamps– CCTV America: The Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab is demonstrating the world’s most efficient outdoor lighting systems in a small industrial park just outside Copenhagen so that city planners can get a first-hand look at what is available for their municipalities.. All examples have Wi-Fi computer management systems and several have motion sensors and LEDs. These technologies bring enormous potential for energy savings, particularly in developing countries where it is essential to bring down the carbon footprint.
  • “Inspired Light” Combines Light Painting And Automotive Photography– Fstoppers:  World-renowned light painting photographer Patrick Rochon recently finalized a project with Infiniti where he photographed XQ70s in motion with multi-colored LED strips attached to them, making it appear as though the cars painted pictures. Precision drivers were hired to “light paint” with the vehicles, each of which had a total of 2,520 LEDs with output exceeding 30,000 lumens.
  • Nobel Prize winners reflect on difficulties faced in developing blue LED– The Asahi Shimbun: The three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics spoke at Stockholm University on December 8 about the difficulties they faced in the 1980s as they were developing the blue LED. They recalled that one of the biggest obstacles was creating crystals needed for the blue LED from gallium nitride. After years of trying to come up with the right material, the pure crystals were finally created in 1985.
  • Designers illuminate us on their winter wonders– The Japan Times: While Japanese lighting displays rarely include typical Christmas icons such as Santa or dancing snowmen, the illuminations are just as whimsical and often serve as a showcase for technological advances in the field of LEDs. These displays have become massive endeavors with corporate sponsors ranging from real estate companies to brands such as Hennessey Cognac. Architecture professor at Tokyo City University Shiego Kobayashi noted that the massive display of light lift people’s spirits and eases the coldness of the long winter nights.
  • LED market to grow at 17.9% from $46.4bn in 2014 to $105.5bn in 2019– Semiconductor Today: As the usability and efficiency of LEDs over traditional light bulbs has steadily increased over the last decade, the global market for high-brightness LEDs is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.9% from nearly $46.4 billion in 2014 to $105.5 billion in 2019. LEDs for general illumination applications have the highest growth rate of any major segment.

The Many Sides of Sapphire

Sapphire substrates are used to grow semiconductor compounds, most commonly GaN for LEDs and other applications such as high temperature superconductors. They are also used to grow silicon for manufacturing microwave ICs, high-speed ICs and pressure transducers.

Sapphire is the single crystal form of aluminum oxide (Al2O3), and single crystals are made of identical building blocks, known as unit cells, which repeat themselves continuously and unbroken from edge to edge. This makes the atom arrangement of a sample highly organized and predictable. The crystal structure of sapphire is hexagonal/rhombohedral.

ShapeTo grow different material on sapphire with atom layer-to-layer precision requires atomic level agreement between the substrate and the material. These requirements are only satisfied along specific surfaces known as planes of the sapphire crystal.  Optical properties, hardness and thermal conductivity of sapphire also vary significantly by the orientation.

Based on application specifications, sapphire single crystal structure is divided into multiple planes. The planes most frequently used — c, a, m and r — are shown in the figure with respect to sapphire crystal axis directions. The atomic arrangement in each plane is unique and shown in the figures below with grey atoms representing aluminum and red atoms representing oxygen.









Sapphire Industry Watch – December 5

  • Orbital Sciences’ Third Mission to Space Station Ready to Educate & Inspire – Product Design & Development: Orbital Sciences’ latest mission to the International Space Station will transport a student research project that will test the effects of microgravity and light wavelength on plant growth, specifically pea shoots. Seeking to identify the best combinations of red and blue LED lights to grow the pea shoots in space, student researchers will analyze the plants’ mineral content upon return. The results could lead to more efficient crop production on Earth, especially in areas with limited resources.
  • Greener stadiums: Sports world sees the (LED) light – GreenBiz: As the cost curve continues to fall and technological advances continue to be made, sports stadiums have finally begun making the switch to LEDs. Though sports venues have been slow to adopt efficient lighting breakthroughs in the past, LED lighting systems have become preferred over metal halides since due to their low energy consumption and light production efficiency.
  • A Skokie Native’s Smart LED Light That Mimics the Sun Is a Hit on Kickstarter – ChicagoInno: Invented by a native of Skokie, Illinois, the Sunn Light is an LED light that changes color and brightness with the rhythm of the sun. The Sunn Light is designed to improve sleep and increase focus by helping adjust our internal clocks to the right time of day.
  • Let it glow! Father breaks world record with incredible Christmas display that uses 120kms of LED lights – Daily Mail Online: Australian David Richards breaks the Guinness World Record for largest Christmas LED light display by using 120km of lights and more than one million bulbs to decorate Canberra’s central business district. The extravagant light display, which has been nine months in the making, is done annually in an effort to raise vital funds for the SIDS and Kids charity.
  • Have you noticed a change in the Des Moines skyline? – KCCI 8 News: Not only is the 801 Grand in Downtown Des Moines the tallest building in Iowa, but thanks to the recent installation of LED lights, it is now the brightest. As part of a $284 million renovation, the entire downtown campus is receiving an outdoor lighting upgrade in order to light up the area more brightly and to save money.

Sapphire Industry Watch – November 21

  • GERMANY: Mercedes-Benz plans LED headlamp advances – Just Auto: In order to boost light quality and increase night visibility, Mercedes-Benz plans to increase the number of LEDs in each headlamp from 24 to 84. With as many as 1024 pixels per LED, this will enable optimum illumination of the road at every speed and in all traffic conditions. In the near future, Mercedes-Benz plans to also incorporate an additional high range LED high beam into its LED headlamps.
  • The end of Edison’s light bulb– Tech Central: Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs can do much more than simply light up a dark room. With the development of smart lighting technology, LEDs can now be programmed and controlled wirelessly through smartphone apps which can make them even more energy efficient. When they were first developed LEDs struggled to provide the same light output as incandescent bulbs, but recent advancements have allowed them to catch up. The energy savings and extended life of LEDs is spelling the end for Edison’s light bulb.
  • Fujitsu tech enables LED-lit objects to transmit data to smartphones– gizmag: Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a system that enables RGB LED-lit objects to convey data to a mobile device. When running the proper software, the smartphone can detect the code in the light being rapidly displayed on the object and respond by displaying informational content, navigating to a website or doing whatever else is stipulated.
  • National Gallery goes green with lighting overhaul– By combining the use of LED lighting with a system that automatically adjusts external roof blinds, the United Kingdom’s National Gallery has become one of the first public buildings in the world to achieve 85% energy savings on lighting. In addition, to protect paintings from light damage, a control system has been integrated into the Gallery’s building management system that augments natural light coming through the building’s skylight by adjusting the output from LEDs.

Sapphire Industry Watch – November 14

  • BMW develops street lights with electric car-charging sockets – Reuters: German luxury car maker BMW has developed two prototype “Light and Charge” street lights equipped with sockets to charge electric cars. A pilot program to test out the street lights, which combine LEDs and BMW’s ChargeNow recharging stations, is set to launch in Munich next year using existing local authority lighting networks. Drivers will be able to pay to charge their cars through a mobile phone app.
  • Christmas lights world record attempt taking shape in Canberra– The Canberra Times: Well-known for his extravagant light displays every Christmas, this year Australian David Richards seeks to break the Guinness world record for the largest LED light image display. Opening on November 28 at Petrie Plaza in Canberra, Australia, the massive light display will feature 110 kilometers of string lighting with an LED light every 10 centimeters. The current Guinness record is held by an Uzbekistan energy plant with 1,012,840 lights.
  • Guest Commentary: Sapphire Substrate Advances Lead To Bright LEDs at Lower Costs– Solid State Lighting Design: Akhtar Zaman, Senior VP of Quality SLM for Rubicon Technology, explains how the trends toward Patterned Sapphire Substrates (PSS) and larger-diameter sapphire wafers are facilitating greater light extraction efficiency and more efficient LED chip manufacturing.
  • Radar-Enabled Light Bulbs Automatically Detect When the Elderly Fall– Gizmodo: A Japanese company has developed a pair of LED light bulbs featuring built-in laser-based radar that has the ability to track the movements of someone within 26 feet of its vicinity. Invented to help keep a closer eye on the elderly, the light bulbs automatically send alerts when they detect a person has fallen or suddenly stopped moving. They can also intelligently process data to determine if someone has fallen or just simply fallen asleep.

Sapphire Industry Watch – November 7

  • LED bulb efficiency clearly pulling ahead of compact fluorescents – Ars Technica: A new generation of LEDs with the energy efficiency of nearly 100 lumens per Watt hit the market in 2014. Compared to the energy efficiencies of compact fluorescent, roughly 60 lumens per watt, and incandescent bulbs, 15 lumens per Watt, LEDs are clearly pulling ahead as the most economical lighting choice for most users.
  • Sydney Opera House lights up Concert Hall with new lamps after first major upgrade – ABC News, Australia:  The Sydney Opera House received an award-winning lighting upgrade involving 355 custom-made LED lights, which are guaranteed to last 50,000 hours each. As one of the most high-profile performance venues in the world, the scale of LED coverage creates a unique performance environment. This is the first major upgrade to the theatre’s lamps in the building’s history and is predicted to cut the Concert Hall’s power bills by 75 percent.
  • LEDs light up NYC for the Empire State Building Halloween light show – Mashable: The Empire State Building hosted its second annual Halloween light show the night of October 31, programming colorful lighting changes and animations to sync to songs such as “Monster Mash” and “Ghostbusters”.  The building’s 1,200 LED lighting fixtures begin on the 72nd floor and continue up the mast. The LED fixtures were installed in late 2012 and the Halloween light show was designed by world-renowned lighting designer Marc Brickman, who also designed the building’s Halloween show in 2013.
  • Global LED market ‘could hit US $25.7bn in 2015’ – Want China Times: Industry research center LEDinside predicts the value of the global lighting market will reach $82.1 billion in 2015, $25.7 billion of which will be made up of LED lighting. The LED market penetration rate will reach 31% next year. Europe is anticipated to have the largest market stake with 23 percent of worldwide LED lighting, followed by China at 21 percent and the United States at 19 percent.

Sapphire Industry Watch – October 31

  •  An Imperial Honor – The UC Santa Barbara Current: After recently receiving the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for his invention of the blue LED, UC Santa Barbara professor Shuji Nakamura has now also been selected to receive the 2014 Order of Culture Award.  One of Japan’s highest honors, the Order of Culture Award is a significant acknowledgement of Nakamura’s invention, which made white LEDs a reality and opened the door to affordable, energy-efficient lighting.
  • Glowy Zoey: the LED stickman costume that’s lighting up the internet– The Telegraph: This time last year, 22-month old Zoey became an Internet sensation after her father, Royce Hutain, posted an irresistibly cute video of her in an LED stickman Halloween costume. This year, Hutain has launched an online business to sell the LED costumes, which have been manufactured into several different sizes and stick figure outlines. You can even purchase the same Minnie Mouse suit Zoey wore for a recent trip to Disney World.
  • Turtle-friendly lighting project set for Pensacola Beach– Santa Rosa’s Press Gazette: After launching a project one year ago to brighten U.S. Highway 98 with efficient LED lighting, Gulf Power now aims to complete a turtle-friendly lighting project that will reduce light impacts on wildlife while also improving the lighting around Pensacola Beach, Florida. The project aims to reduce ambient light that can impact the sea turtles’ ability to make their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Everything you wanted to know about LEDs but were afraid to ask– Fortune: Since the energy crises of the 1970s, researchers have introduced many lighting options more efficient than the incandescent light bulb, however, none compare to the LED. LEDs have come to dominate the market at a pace which has surprised people inside and outside of the lighting profession. After Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura invented the blue LED, which led to the creation of white LEDs, the lights became ubiquitous and now appear everywhere from traffic signals to computer screens to table lamps.
  • Ornamental plant seedlings grown with LED lights at Purdue – Purdue University: Researchers from Purdue University have successfully grown ornamental plant seedlings indoors using red and blue LEDs as the sole light sources. The findings from their research have led them to test whether production time can be reduced by using more colors. The goal is to help the plants flower faster for sale to consumers.

Glowy Zoey “The LED Baby” Becomes a Business

This time last year, 22-month old Zoey Hutain became an Internet sensation after her father posted an irresistibly cute video of her in an LED stickman Halloween costume. The video of “Glowy Zoey” quickly went viral, leading to over 22 million views on YouTube, along with appearances on shows like Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Fallon, Nightline, CNN and more.

Now, anyone can “shine as bright as little Glowy Zoey did” since Zoey’s father, Royce Hutain, recently launched his own online business to sell LED sitckman suits for toddlers, children and adults — just in time for the holidays!

His online store promotes the stickman suits (and, of course, benefits of LEDs):

The costume edition of the Glowy Zoey LED suit is made to be affordable to anyone who wants to light up their world. You will not find a brighter, more eye-catching costume than this brilliantly shining LED stickman costume! Not only will you or your child be the center of attention, you will also be the safest. We have done tests where this LED Halloween costume has been seen from a mile away! Make light of everything you do and join the hundreds of others that have already joined the Glowy Zoey family!

While he says it was never his intention to start a business out of the homemade costume he made purely for fun, the idea sparked after he received over 1,000 emails last October inquiring where to purchase the same outfit Glowy Zoey was wearing.

This year, Hutain has had costumes of several different sizes and stick figure outlines manufactured, including a Minnie Mouse suit Zoey wore especially for a trip to Disney World. The Disney-inspired suit features 372 multi-colored LEDs and hides a microphone to make the suit responsive to sound.

Make your own LED costume and share it with us on Twitter (@RubbiconSapph) for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

Sapphire Industry Watch – October 24

  • LED Lights Are A ‘Transformative Technology’ In The Developing World – NPR: LED lights, in combination with solar panels, are causing an illumination revolution for people in the developing world who do not have access to reliable sources of electricity. According to the IFC, 2.1 million LED-solar products have been sold worldwide in the past six months to people who are unable to plug in to electrical grids. While groups have tried to deliver reliable energy services to people without access to modern energy in the past, cost was the most prohibiting factor. With LED efficiency improving and prices dropping, it has become the go-to lighting source for these areas.
  • The Wellograph smart watch review – AppAdvice: The Wellograph launched in September and is considered to be the first smart watch with a sapphire display. The smart watch is an activity tracker, heart rate monitor, pedometer and stopwatch, which is powered by a tri-LED heart rate sensor and 9-axis motion sensor.
  • Farmers turning to LEDs for more efficient lighting – Iowa City Press-Citizen: Many Iowa hog farmers are embracing LED lighting to reap in savings on utility bills and maintain more efficient operations. Unlike CFLs, LEDs can handle harsh Midwestern weather conditions- they function well in cold temperatures as well as heat up to 145 degrees.  In addition, LEDs are providing better lighting for the hogs, which are known to have poor eyesight, and produce lower frequency sounds which is good for cows as high frequency sounds can cause them discomfort.
  • US Energy Department Announces $10M For Solid State Lighting Research – Compound Semiconductor: The US Energy Department announced $10 million of funding to support research, development and manufacturing of solid-state lighting technologies across the country as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to cut energy waste and double energy productivity by 2030. While the LED technology of today produces about 150 lumens per watt, the Energy Department is striving to increase this to 250 lumens per watt- a 75 percent increase. Solid-state lighting technologies have the potential to save Americans $26 billion a year in energy costs by 2030.
  • China’s LED lighting industry on verge of explosion – WantChinaTimes: Following growing demands in domestic and global markets, experts say China will see a huge growth in the LED industry in the near future. China’s exports of LED lights to developed countries have remained steady and a recent report states that overall exports will maintain 40% annual growth for an estimated three to five years.